The Jewish Community of Vienna (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien), a local affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, presented a report on the state of antisemitism in Austria in 2019.
The report, which was conducted together with the Forum Against Antisemitism Forum (FgA), found a total of 550 antisemitic incidents, an increase of 9.5 percent in the last two years, and more than double in from five years ago.
The resurgence of antisemitic incidents manifested itself a number of ways, with the primary method of attack being property damage. The climate of right-wing extremism in both Austria and across the continent has been fundamental in spurring these incidents, the report found.
“Austria is not an island. The increase in antisemitic incidents can, unfortunately, be observed across Europe," IKG President Oskar Deutsch told the Austrian Press Agency in response to the findings. “The fight against antisemitism is not a Jewish task alone, but rather a task for society as a whole. The findings of 2019 show us that the time to act has really come.”
While the increased numbers recorded indicate an improvement in systematic reporting of incidents, there are many attacks which continue to go unreported.
Austrian Federal Minister Karoline Edtstadler called the report a frightening and an urgent call to action: “The number of antisemitic incidents in Vienna has more than doubled since 2014, from 255 to 550. This development must serve as a warning to us all. As a society, we must now unite to fight even more decisively against all antisemitic tendencies. The IKG's current antisemitism report shows that we still have a lot of work to do in this area.”
Over the past few weeks, Edtstadler has been monitoring with great concern reports of the demonstrations against governmental COVID-19 restrictions in both Vienna and in Germany, the latter of which has seen a rapid intermingling of conspiracy theories where conspiracy theories and antisemitic messages have become intermingled.
“Freedom of expression is an important cornerstone in every living democracy. That is precisely why we must ensure that it is not abused. We are increasingly experiencing a disturbing wave of Corona demonstrations in Austria, which are used as a platform by extremist and antisemitic groups. We must therefore be even more vigilant about immediately identifying and clearly condemning such incidents,” Edtstadle said.
Edtstadler believes that the most effective means for combating antisemitism is education, comprehensive information sharing, and a close exchange with the authorities, for each of which the IKG plays an important role. In the current crisis, "Politicians, the media and, above all, executives running social media platforms are required more than ever to make a contribution to ensuring the accuracy of information," concluded Federal Minister Karoline Edtstadler.